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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Information Effect Project


How has self-esteem been a problem with high school teenagers in the last few years? How is the majority of Utah’s teenage self-esteem? Is it high self-esteem or low self-esteem? Self-esteem has many definitions, Baban A. indicates that “self-esteem refers to how we evaluate ourselves and how good we think we are by comparison with our own expectations or others. Albu G. considers self-esteem as individuals’ confidence in their own ability to think and to face the challenges of human life and success.” Teenage self-esteem has been a huge problem in today’s society. According to a few teenage girls from Hunter High School, most of them have been having low self-esteem today because of other people’s beliefs that they should be skinny to be beautiful. Studies have shown that it doesn’t only have to do with how society views how they look, but how they feel about themselves as well. High school is the place where most teenagers know if they either have high self-esteem or low self-esteem. Sheykhjan states that “high school is the time when most students are developing their sense of identity of being whom they are.” According to Hudson, “it is estimated that up to a half of adolescents will struggle with low self-esteem.” When going from high school to college, students may have low self-esteem because they don’t know what to do with their life or they may not know who they are in reality. Logically, school plays a huge role on teenage self-esteem because it’s where they spend the most time of their lives at. High school; a place where teenagers go to get an education. High school students are the people that have the most problems with self-esteem. Why is high school the time when most teens have low self-esteem? It all has to do with looks. Every teen wants to look good, but during those years teens start to get acne and their bodies start to change. According to Hudson, physical appearance is one of the biggest predictors for if teenage self-esteem is high or low. Teenage girls who suffer from low self-esteem want to have clear skin, have a perfect body, be smart, and be beautiful. High school plays a huge role on self-esteem because according to a couple of interviews from Hunter High School teenage girls having a social life, using social media, and doing coursework are what makes up their high school life. Overall, school and social media are the main factors affecting self-esteem in teenagers not only in Utah, but in many other states as well.


As stated by Sheykhjan, self-esteem is really important and everyone needs positive self-esteem to feel good about themselves. High self-esteem also known as positive self-esteem is when people feel good about who and what they are. Positive self-esteem is people liking themselves above all the negatives in their life. Low self-esteem which is also known as negative self-esteem is when people don’t feel comfortable with their bodies nor with whom they are. They are more likely to get depression and they care about what society says about them. According to Sheykhjan, “Students who feel positive about themselves have fewer sleepless nights, succumb less easily to pressures of conformity by peers, are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, are more persistent at difficult tasks, are happier and more sociable, and most pertinent to this study is that they tend to perform better academically.” Those teenage high school students who have high self-esteem are happy with their lives. They try to enjoy everything they can and not listen to other people’s negative thoughts. They are the ones with the biggest smiles and they often help others boost their self-esteem. Whereas, “high school students with low self-esteem tend to be unhappy, less sociable, more likely to use drugs and alcohol, and are more vulnerable to depression, which are all correlated with lower academic achievement.” It is self-explanatory that students should have a normal amount of self-esteem to be successful in school and in life. Teenagers from Granger High School believe that having a moderate amount of self-esteem which is not too positive nor too negative is better than being on one end, they believe that that having normal self-esteem will help them have a normal life where some thing’s that society thinks matters, but not everything.

School drops self-esteem not only because teens care so much about how they look, but because of the exams they take like the American College Testing and the Scholastic Assessment Test. The American College Test and the Scholastic Assessment Test are standardized exams teenagers in high school take for college admissions. According to students from Granger High School, some of them said that standardized exams make them feel unintelligent if they don’t get a high score to get into the college of their dreams. Even though they know that the tests aren’t accurate in what they know or not, they feel less competitive to go to college because it lowers their self-esteem significantly. The same goes for end of the term grades, their self-esteem lowers if they get a grade that they didn’t expect to get. Diana Aguilar, a student from Hunter High, mentioned that most of them tend to blame the teacher for the grade they received and accuse them of not teaching the information good enough for them to learn it.

Social media; websites and apps used to socialize with friends, family, and strangers. Research has shown that teenagers in today’s time period are on social media for the majority of their spare time. According to a study on internet use and social media, “The findings revealed that self-esteem and social media addiction predict 20% of the daily internet use. Furthermore, while depression was associated with self-esteem and daily internet use directly, social media addiction was affecting depression indirectly. Tested model was able to predict 28% of the depression among adolescents.” While on social media, teenagers look at other people’s pictures and how well their lives are, which only causes them to get depressed. According to Oguinye, teenage girls are suffering from depression because of unrealistic pictures on social media. A study done by Javaid and Ahmad reported that “44% of the American young girls believed they were overweight and 60% were actively trying to lose weight although majority of these girls were within normal weight range. The thin-ideal women often portrayed in the media are typically 15 % below the average weight of women (Hawkins et al., 2010) representing unrealistic standards of thinness.” We live in a world where social media is a big thing for teenagers because they want to fit in with all the other people. Sometimes people on social media create fake pages or accounts to cyber bully someone whom they don’t like or get along with. Cyber bullying leads to teens having low self-esteem. In some cases, low self-esteem takes people to make the wrong decisions, just like Vela did. According to the Tribune Media Wire, a teenager named Brady Vela shot herself in front of her parents because of cyber bullying, which made her get low self-esteem. Healthy Place, America’s Mental Health Channel states that low self-esteem is one of the risk factors for teenage suicide, which is seen in the case of Vela shooting herself.


PIcture of Young Woman Smiling

18 year-old Brandy Vela shot herself dead because of cyber bullying.

High school students also suffer from low self-esteem because of how they feel about themselves or how their life is. Ellie, a teenager who has really low self-esteem, says that she is really shy, awkward, not beautiful, and not confident. She says all of that because her self-esteem is really low. Her self-esteem is low to the point that she is ashamed of the house she lives in and worries a lot about what others think about her. Maria Aguilar, Diana Aguilar’s mom, mentioned that you can’t tell if a teenager has low self-esteem just because many teenagers like to keep things to themselves and act like nothing’s wrong with them.

An unhappy childhood may also be a factor of low self-esteem. As McLeod said, “Low self-esteem in children tends to be related to physical punishment and withholding of love and affection by parents.” Not being able to spend time with family members causes children to grow up having low self-esteem because they needed to be loved. Physical punishment is often given to children when they behave in a way that parents don’t like and it’s the only attention given to them. Low self-esteem grows with them until they are old. As they are growing, they tend to be those types of people that give up on what they want, they bully others, and cheat on examinations or on assignments from school.



Overall, a great amount of teenagers in Utah high schools are suffering from low self-esteem than from high self-esteem. Social media, school, appearances, unhappy childhood, and society are all causing students to have low self-esteem. Many students’ self-esteem mainly depends on their achievements and appearance. According to Ticusan, “self-esteem is how we evaluate ourselves in relation to own expectations and to others and is directly proportional to the awareness of our value.” It’s difficult for students who have dealt with low self-esteem to raise it, but there are some students that look for help. To begin raising teenage self-esteem, they need to be able to value themselves.


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Sheikhjan, Tohid Moradi, Kamran Jabari, and Rajeswari K. “Cognitive Discourses.” International Multidisciplinary Journal 2.2 (2014): 38-41. Web. Mar. 2017. Retrieved from

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WIRE, CNN, and TRIBUNE MEDIA WIRE. “Teen who shot herself dead in front of her parents is still being bullied.” Fox 13. Fox 13 Salt Lake City, 14 Dec. 2016. Web. Mar. 2017. Retrieved from

Keywords: cyberbullying, suicide, teenagers, high school






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